Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.
Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.
“‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction[b] between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”
And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”
But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.”
Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”
Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
– Exodus 8:16-32
First, the details of the next two plagues of Egypt:
Plague 3, Gnats, Exodus 8:16-19
How was it initiated: Moses strikes his staff into the Egyptian dust.
What / Who were affected: Gnats emerged and covered everything in Egypt, both man and animal.
Could the Egyptian Magicians duplicate the miracle: No, the magicians said that this was the Finger of God.
In Pharaoh’s Response, who was in control: Pharaoh’s heart was hard.
Relief from Plague: Not mentioned.
Similar Plague of the End Times: Not mentioned.
Plague 4, Flies, Exodus 8:20-32
How was it initiated: Moses says that the sign from God will be tomorrow.
What / Who were affected: Flies emerged and covered everything in Egypt, but not in Goshen to prove to Pharaoh that the source of the flies was the God of Israel.
Could the Egyptian Magicians duplicate the miracle: There is no mention of the magicians.
In Pharaoh’s Response, who was in control: Pharaoh tried to negotiate, but eventually his heart was hardened.
Relief from Plague: Not mentioned.
Similar Plague of the End Times: Not mentioned.
Have you ever been attacked by gnats? How about the time when you were on a picnic and the flies started landing on your food? These two plagues are irritants, but it is important to note that the magicians could not reproduce the gnat plague and were conspicuously absent for the fly plague.
We think that God is too busy or we are too insignificant to go to God for the small things that we need or want. We take charge of our lives and don’t trust in God’s plan, because it’s just small stuff. We’ll go to God when it is something bigger. Sound familiar?
But wait! God is the God of gnats and flies. If God can command gnats, why should we not trust His plan for our lives? Jesus talked of the sparrow and counting the hairs of our heads, but God is the God who can control even smaller things. We should be able to trust Him in our small things.
I haven’t seen swarms of flies or gnats this thick, but I once thought the early morning sun over Florida Bay had gone behind a cloud. It literally got nearly pitch-black dark in the early morning light. Luckily my cousin was with me and knew to get back into the tent. It was a swarm of mosquitos.
But as for gnats, why would God choose gnats? I used to change my oil on my vehicles until it became nearly impossible to get rid of used oil. Suppose you are on your back under the car, which is chocked and elevated on ramps. You have a wrench in your hand, trying to loosen the drain plug. Gnats appear and attack the moisture around your eyes. You put down the wrench and swat the gnats. Now, you have grease all over your glasses, the gnats are back on your eyes in less than five seconds, but one gnat decides to go into your ear this time. Nothing is more irritating than a small swarm of gnats. Imagine a swarm large enough to be considered a plague of gnats.
As for flies, I have a variety of stories. In one, my Florida cousins were visiting us in Mississippi. My mother and her sister got the idea that the children needed to work. All six of us went across the highway to clear the hill of underbrush. I have no idea what my mother had in mind for the property, maybe cultivating a second garden. After what happened, they abandoned their plans. All the adults left on a day trip. Okay, my sister was in college at the time and she stayed, thankfully. My older brother and sister supervised. Mid-morning we were exhausted, so my brother got out a sack of apples and we sat under a tree. He took his pocket knife and started slicing. A horsefly bit him on his calf. We were all in shorts. Without thinking, he swatted the fly, making a deep gash into his leg with the knife that he had forgotten was in his hand. Oh, there was so much blood. We lived ten miles out of town and the adults had taken every car and truck when they left. My sister instructed us young ones to put pressure on the wound. She helped my brother into the trailer behind the tractor. One cousin and I took turns applying pressure while the others tried to flag down every passing motorist. Each motorist thought we were having fun at their expense, until one motorist saw our blood drenched clothing. Finally, someone stopped, and we transferred my brother. The car then drove him into town a lot faster than the tractor could go. Don’t worry, he starred as the pulling guard and kicker of the football team a couple of months later (another undefeated season).
Thinking more about biting flies, I visited my sister in the summer when she lived on the upper peninsula of Michigan. They only lived there about a year, her husband stationed there in the Air Force. We went camping and were eaten alive by deer flies. I have never had more insect bites in one day as I did that day. The vistas were beautiful, but the price was much too high.
Fast-forward a lot of years to when I went to Thailand the second time in 1998. I was working at a steel mill with two other guys on the team. I wasn’t the boss, but I prepared the weekly progress reports. Our hostesses were very gracious, taking us to lunch every day. One of their favorite places to eat was for them the “sticky rice” place. We called it the fly infestation restaurant. Why have fly paper at every outdoor table (no indoor dining) when the flies went after the food and our faces instead? I will have to admit, the food was delicious, and we got a lot of exercise swatting flies, but there was no telling what was in the food that we did not know about.
Now, picture a plague sized swarm of flies that cover everything. Like the mosquitos over Florida Bay, they look like dark clouds. Then you gaze into the distance and see that there are no flies in the Land of Goshen. You are being bitten by the biting flies. You have flies in your eyes, in your ears, and on your food. They have none. Certainly, this is the Hand of God.
As for similar plagues in the end times, they are not mentioned. We’ll get to locusts later. The gnats and flies are there to irritate. In the end times, God isn’t interested in irritation. He is ready for Judgment.
Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone be the Glory.